Female Leaders Warn Against Global Rise of Autocratic 'Strongmen' and Attack on Women's Rights

Troubled by the rise of a number of autocratic, nationalist male politicians who have convinced voters that they aim to return their nations to a glorified past, more than two dozen female world leaders signed an open letter Thursday, calling for a global fight against what one signer calls “macho-type strongmen” and their so-called “populist” movements.

The recent successes of politicians like Jair Bolsonaro in Brazil, Matteo Salvini in Italy, and President Donald Trump and other Republican leaders in the U.S. has led to a dangerous erosion of women’s rights, the leaders argue.

“We have to be prepared to raise our concerns, otherwise we will be like the frog put into cold water which starts to warm up, and all of a sudden you find yourself in boiling water. We need to be very prepared to fight back,” said Susana Malcorra, former Argentinian foreign minister and one of the lead signers of the letter.

Malcorra joined former New Zealand Prime Minister Helen Clark and former UNESCO director Irina Bokova last year to spearhead the letter after observing what they saw as a disturbing trend at the United Nations General Assembly—a decline of multilateralism and cooperation between countries that has given rise to the kind of leader likely to fight against women’s equality.

“We had a sense that there was another wave of pushback on gender equality and gender empowerment and the policies that we worked so hard to achieve,” Malcorra told the Guardian.

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